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How to Know if You Should Take Your Own Airbnb Listing Photos

By the end of this post, you’ll be able to decide if taking your own Airbnb listing photos is right for you.

I'm Sabrina, a short-term rental host coach who knows starting your own Airbnb biz can quickly get waaaay too complicated. But it doesn't have to be. I help first-time Airbnb hosts like you go from overwhelmed to "Yes!! Another  booking!"
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You might’ve heard from other Airbnb hosts, blogs, or Airbnb itself that hiring a professional photographer is hands-down the right move for your Airbnb listing photos.

That’s totally a myth.

Your Airbnb can be very successful with listing photos you take yourself.

I grossed nearly $19,000 my FIRST MONTH Airbnb hosting with ZERO professional photos.

Just me, myself, and my iPhone.

By the end of this post, you’ll be able to decide if taking your own Airbnb listing photos is right for you. Make sure you read all the way to the bottom for my most important tip.

Before We Jump In

Question: When you look at an Airbnb listing, can you tell whether or not a professional photographer took the listing photos? (If you don’t know, I highly recommend you go look at a few listings right now.)

The difference between professional and amateur Airbnb listing photos can be astounding.

Professional photos make an Airbnb look spacious, well-lit, and high quality. They can definitely help your Airbnb stand out among the crowd.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to hire a photographer right now. This blog post will help you determine what is best for you and your business.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I’m not affiliated with Airbnb in any way (other than being an Airbnb host, of course). Read my full disclosure policy here.

How to Know if You Should Take Your Own Airbnb Listing Photos

Airbnb listing photos
The main photo on my Airbnb listing features the most popular area of my Airbnb, the open-concept living room. | The Realist

When it comes to deciding whether or not you should take your own Airbnb listing photos, you need to be really really honest with yourself about the below questions:

1. Do you have experience taking photos?

And do you enjoy taking photos, at least a little?

You don’t have to be passionate about photography, but you do need to care about taking all the time you need to take and edit photos that make your Airbnb look appealing.

I make sure to highlight all the extra seating in my Airbnb living room.
One of the highlights of my Airbnb is that I provide tons of comfy, high-quality seating. This is one thing that makes my Airbnb stand out, so I highlight it in my listing photos. | The Realist

Recommended: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Beautiful Airbnb Listing Photos

2. Do have the right equipment?

Having the right photography equipment isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. The most important piece of equipment is a camera that shoots high-quality photos and zooms out.

Zooming out lets you capture an entire room, take layout photos, and makes your property look more spacious.

(That said, it tends to distort your pictures, so don’t overdo it.)

The good news? You don’t need a fancy camera. New-ish iPhones do just the trick.

Airbnb listing photos
Having a camera that zooms out allows you to capture an entire room in one shot. | The Realist

3. Do you know how to make a room look light and bright?

And if you don’t have experience with brightening photos (both while taking photos and while editing afterward) do you want to learn?

Taking bright, well-lit photos is essential because it makes your Airbnb appear inviting, fun, and spacious.

When it comes to having the right lighting, you need to consider a few things:

  1. The weather
    • A warm and sunny backdrop outside will make the inside of your Airbnb more welcoming.
  2. Your lighting
    • Having bright light inside your Airbnb also has a huge impact. When taking photos, you’ll want to turn on every light inside your property. I also recommend experimenting with additional lighting. I use my Ring light in certain rooms that feel a little too dark, but you can use anything.
  3. Editing
    • Lighting alone won’t make your photos appear light and bright. To achieve this, you need to be comfortable editing your photos afterward. Without any editing at all, your photos will likely be dark and poorly cropped.
    • The good news is, it doesn’t take any fancy software to achieve this. The photo app native to your phone probably allows you to adjust the exposure, brightness, and warmth.
One of the highlights of my Airbnb is that I provide tons of comfy, high-quality seating. This is one thing that makes my Airbnb stand out, so I highlight it in my listing photos. | The Realist

Recommended: 10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos

4. Do you have time to take and edit photos?

Taking and editing your Airbnb listing photos takes longer than you’d think (especially if you’re staging your property!)

Give yourself at least one full day to take the photos and at least one full day to select and edit them afterward.

Don’t forget: uploading photos to your listing and crafting the perfect caption takes time, too.

Airbnb Kitchen
Taking photos like this one can take a lot longer than you’d expect! | The Realist

Recommended: 10 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Listing With Airbnb

5. Can you think of any meaningful changes you’ll want to make to your property?

When it comes to deciding whether or not to hire a professional photographer, this is the #1 most important thing to consider.

That’s because, if you hire a professional photographer, you can’t just snap an updated photo and add it to your listing.

So, I don’t recommend hiring a photographer until after you’re done making changes.

When thinking about whether or not you’ll make meaningful changes, the first thing to consider is staging.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with getting your Airbnb up and running, you might decide to delay staging your property (because it’s NOT crucial). Hold off on hiring a photographer until you’re ready to stage your property.

You’ll also learn A LOT after having your first few guests. Things will break. Things will go missing. Guests will give feedback about important items they’d like to have. You’ll change your mind about what’s best for your Airbnb and what isn’t.

All that’s to say, your Airbnb might look a lot different one year into hosting. If that’s likely, consider holding off on hiring a photographer until you’re done making changes.

Airbnb listing photos
Guests love the open floorplan in the main area of my Airbnb, so I make sure to highlight this in my Airbnb listing photos. | The Realist

Decision Time

If you answered yes to everything above, then the DIY route is probably right for your Airbnb listing photos.

That’s not to say you should never hire a professional photographer. Once you’ve been hosting for a while and are confident you’re not going to make any additional changes to your property, then hire a photographer to capture your Airbnb in the absolute best light possible!

Here are some crucial blog posts that will help you absolutely nail taking your own listing photos with ease:

If you answered no to most of the questions above, then hiring a photographer is probably a better fit for you.

If so, I recommend talking to your photographer about your expectations so you’re both on the same page. A few things you might want to discuss:

  • Video walkthroughs
    • Many photographers sell standard packages that include video walkthroughs of your property. Unfortunately, you can’t post videos on Airbnb. So, you might only want to pay for a video if you plan to use it on other platforms.
  • You probably won’t get to pick and choose from a variety of photos
    • The photographers I’ve talked to all take several of the same photo and edit them together, so you only get to see the final (fully paid for) images.
  • Ask about photo rights
    • It’s standard for photographers to own the rights to the photos they take. So, if you’re ever interested in using them off the Airbnb platform you may need to get that approved by the photographer in advance.

And, you’ll still want to do a lot of the things mentioned in these blog posts:


When it comes to whether or not to take professional Airbnb listing photos, the answer differs for every Airbnb host.

And, whatever you choose isn’t set in stone – you can take your own photos now, change things around, learn a lot about what works best for you and your guests, and THEN hire a professional to really take your photos to the next level.

As long as you put effort into whichever option you choose, you can’t go wrong!

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Airbnb Listing Photos

Any questions about taking your own Airbnb listing photos? Drop them in the comments.

Disclaimer: All content on this website is for informational purposes only. You are taking all provided information at your own risk. We are not financial, real estate, legal, investment or other professionals. Nothing on this website should be construed as professional advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature. For more information, read our disclaimer.

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